Public perceptions of indecent image offenders
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Indecent images of children (IIOC) offences are on the rise year by year, in part due to the easy accessibility to this content with the augmentation of the internet. This has led to increased attention from the public and those involved with law enforcement. However, research into the public perceptions of these offences is very limited. While they do not directly dictate law enforcement, the views of the public have become dominant in penal policymaking and therefore, understanding their current perceptions and beliefs is paramount. One of the only items of research into this area was conducted by Lam et al (2010), who examined the perceptions of North American students on IIOC offences. The current study is a partial replication of this study, and examined these perceptions, using nine vignettes with varying victim and offender age, with a more generalisable U.K. sample. A total of 253 participants rated their perceptions of offence severity, appropriate justice response, the probability of reoffence, the probability of past and future physical sexual contact with a child, the probability that the offender is a paedophile, and the perceived gender of the offender. Victim age influenced perceived crime severity, appropriate justice responses and probability of reoffence. There was no influence by either victim age or offender age on perceived probability of past or future sexual contact with a child, but an interaction between the two independent variables was found on perceived probability the offender was a paedophile. The study notes variation between public perceptions and actual data.
Taylor-Smith, J.S. (2021) 'Public perceptions of indecent image offenders', The Plymouth Student Scientist, 14(2), pp. 636-650.